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Iraqi FM: Parliament May Approve Security Pact With US


Iraq's foreign minister says a pact extending the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq has a good chance of gaining parliamentary approval, despite some heated opposition.

Hoshyar Zebari spoke as lawmakers Thursday held a second reading of the agreement, which would extend the U.S. troop presence for another three years.

Wednesday's session was cut short after lawmakers loyal to Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr disrupted the session by shouting down those in favor of the pact. One lawmaker scuffled with guards.

Despite opposition, the agreement is expected to pass because Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's ruling coalition dominates the legislature.

Parliament is expected to vote on the pact on November 24.

On Wednesday, U.S. officials expressed confidence in the agreement. Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said Iraq's security situation and its forces have improved so dramatically that U.S. services will not be needed in Iraq by 2012.

Zebari and the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, signed the security pact on Monday after months of negotiations. Iraq's parliament must still pass it.

While U.S. and Iraqi officials have called the pact a firm commitment on the future of the American military presence, both sides have said it could be renegotiated.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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